My email last week about banning “shop local” generated a lot of positive reaction. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear from anyone who disagreed with me. Maybe you all were just being polite.
I’m glad it got people talking. What I said about shop local is tied in to a bigger concept. The future of small towns lies in moving forward and changing.
We’ve talked about the fact that small towns are necessary, and that rural resources are absolutely vital to our nations. But that doesn’t mean every town will survive, or that any town gets to stay unchanged.
Even over your lifetime or just the time you’ve lived there, how much has your small town changed? Some change has been good, I’d guess, and some has been bad. But it isn’t the same as when you arrived.
Not every small town will thrive. Some small towns will decline and eventually disappear. Others will manage a turn around. Others are prospering now. Each town has its own trajectory.
What decides that trajectory? Well, that’s a great question.
- Partially, it’s luck of the geographic draw, like being near a major tourist draw. (Can’t do much about that.)
- Partially, it’s the prosperity of locally owned businesses. (That’s the part I focus on.)
- Mostly, I think, it’s about the people. Do they make decisions that help or hurt? Are they willing to admit that future will not be the past? (That’s the part you can focus on.)
Think about the list of attitudes to succeed in a small town that Clay Forsberg shared with us. The first one was “Embrace change and be flexible.” And as you go on down the list, all the successful attitudes deal with change.
Think about the changes in finding volunteers we talked about. All your current volunteer opportunities need to be completely re-designed. That’s a sign of people changing.
Think about the positive rural stories you shared with me. Kat told us how Ponca City has so much good news. Gayle shared how Henryetta, Oklahoma, has millions of dollars of investment in just the past few years. And Rob told me about the new “good news” newspaper in Wyndham, Maine. All three are about moving forward..
Noticing a theme? Rural means change. We are in motion, not standing still.
Your town is on a trajectory. If you like that trajectory, keep working on moving forward and upward together. If you don’t like the trajectory, start with people and building community.
You can invite other people into this discussion by sharing this:
By the way, I ran a report, and I just had to share it. You are one of 1,108 small town people from 30 countries who receive this every week. Thank you for being part of this community.
If I missed your country, let me know, and I’ll give you a shout out next week.